Tuesday October 23 2018

PULSE 23/10/18

Acts 12:1-19a – Tells of the early church, the spread of the gospel, the challenges and the triumphs. John’s brother – James – was killed by Herod and Peter was locked up and destined for execution. In these dire times when they seemed to be in an impossible situation, we find the church members in prayer. Here are a few reflections on prayer based on Acts 12:1-19a:

Pray to God
When you pray, you are not just talking to yourself or praying eloquent prayers to impress those who hear you. Prayer to God means having an audience with God. It means actually coming into the presence of God – asking and receiving.

Pray Together
‘The Church’ (v5) joined together in prayer. ‘Many people had gathered and were praying’ (v12). The New Testament teachers a lot about about private prayer, but there is even more about praying together.

Pray Passionately
There are two reasons why they might not have prayed at all. First, James had been executed (v2). God had not answered their prayers for James; we don’t know why. But it did not stop them praying.
Second, Peter’s situation seemed impossible. Their choice was either give up praying or to pray passionately. The Greek word ektenos (translated here as ‘earnestly’) was used to describe a horse made to go at a full gallop. It denotes the taut muscles of strenuous and sustained effort as of an athlete.
The imperfect tense suggests that they prayed not as a one-off, but for a considerable length of time. They persevered.

Pray for Others
They prayed for Peter (v5). There are many types of prayer: worship, praise, thanksgiving, petition, and so on – but here we read of intercessory prayer. They prayed for him because they loved him. Intercessory prayer is an act of love.

The believers’ prayers resulted in God acting supernaturally. Peter was freed the night before his trial. God’s answer involved visions, angels and chains falling off (vv6-9) Obstacles were removed. The guards did not bar the prisoner’s escape, and the iron gate to the city opened for them (v10). God did what seemed impossible in answer to their earnest prayers.

John Scott wrote, “This chapter opens with James dead, PEter in prison and Herod triumphing; it closes with Herod dead, Peter free and the word of God triumphing.”

History belongs to the intercessors. You can shape your generation through prayer. You can influence the course of history.